Work begins to revise Superior city budgets

The city council delayed a budget decision after the pipeline terminal tax came in $257,000 less than last year.

Government Center, Superior, Wisconsin. (Jed Carlson /

Mayor Jim Paine is revising the city’s budgets to create more realistic revenue projections and trim expenses to match those projections.

After presenting the budget to the city council on Sept. 7, officials learned Tuesday, Sept. 21, that the pipeline terminal tax would be less than it was last year. The pipeline terminal tax accounts for about 11% of the city's revenue. With projected increases calculated into the budget, the $257,000 reduction from last year could leave the city with $5 million less to spend over five years, Paine said.

“Just about all of our budgets are thrown into flux by that,” Paine said at Tuesday's city council meeting. “I think there is at least some opportunity to pass the budget tonight, but I do not recommend it.”

Paine said the council’s options included proceeding with bad projects, making minor adjustments to get through 2022 or creating responsible projections before adopting the budgets.

“I think it is wise to prepare more for storms than sunshine right now,” Paine said.


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The councilors will consider the city’s general operations, capital improvement program, revolving grant program budgets for 2022 and the 2020 budget surplus allocation.

“I think the smart thing is for the council to send this back to the mayor’s office,” councilor Brent Fennessey said. “The alternative would be 10 of us making motions, trying to fix a $5 million shortfall for the next five years.”

Paine said his goal in rewriting the budget is still to maintain the fiscal health of the city, both as an institution and a whole. He doesn’t want to increase property taxes or add debt that was just taken out back into the budget.

However, the mayor said he is concerned about meeting the statutory deadlines to pass the budget. He suggested the council or finance committee hold a special meeting to discuss the revised budgets so the council can pass them at the Oct. 5 meeting.

Councilors referred the revised budgets to a special finance committee meeting that will be held at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 28.

“We could be sitting here with the opposite issue next year,” Council President Tylor Elm said.

Still, he said it’s prudent to make the adjustments and send the revisions to the finance committee before adoption.


Councilor Jack Sweeney, chairman of the finance committee, asked to have the revisions to the committee by Friday, Sept. 24.

Paine said his office would work to have the revisions to the finance committee by Friday.

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As reported by Douglas County.
As reported by Douglas County.
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